It’s impossible to overstate the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic. All aspects of life have been disrupted, or broken entirely, in ways that only major wars or crises have ever done. The toll of deaths and sickness has brought great sadness to many, with families and communities changed for ever. We all feel the loss.
Pre-Covid, firms often found business Development relatively simple: find the key event nodes where buyers and key players could be found and use them as informal or formal networking opportunities. Such opportunities abounded, ranging from sales follow-up visits and calls, through semi-casual and planned sector events, potential client gatherings, trade shows and a plethora of opportunities to meet, discuss, share opportunities and sell.
Take sectors such as Food & Drink, or Fashion and Consumer, which have always relied heavily on the senses, the tangible and the physical allure of actual products to attract potential clients. It is obvious, for example, how a well-stocked trade stand might have drawn interest.
The challenge is now how to translate this to the PC screen, how to get potential leads to take part in your on-screen event. Early feedback needs to be garnered in new ways and even gaining talk-time with clients needs to be approached in new ways.
Access to opportunities
One related access issue for smaller businesses is how to find ways to get themselves inserted into the supply chain for bigger opportunities.
Some businesses that pre-Covid had no need of digital skills or delivery have now found that they need Digital transformation if they are to bridge the widening digital gap that is emerging.
As both business and consumer customers become ever readier to make a digitally-enabled purchase their first choice, those firms that are stuck behind in the analogue-only world are likely to lose even their existing customers.
Start-ups are the future
The final point is crucial: help for future-facing Start-Ups. Many Covid support schemes help existing businesses but Start-Ups are less supported although arguably they are more crucial for the medium term.
As state aid fades away next spring, a new wave of unemployment will come upon us and we will need a very vibrant Start-up culture to generate new products, services and businesses. Many new jobs will need to be created and the biggest creator of new employment is the SME sector. Currently there is plenty of online advice and support for start-ups but these lack the crucial 1-2-1 personal support of an experienced business adviser.
This represents a clear gap therefore in the provision of support for early-stage and start-up businesses. Self-employment in many sectors could be nurtured through properly tailored 1-2-1 and workshop programmes, many of which could sit well alongside existing Growth programmes. Such an expansion of 1-2-1 advice would greatly help those starting, or considering starting, a new business.
Newable has specialised in SME business advice for decades, is well placed to help the sector help the country get back on its feet again. Fit and ready to thrive.